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Services update – October 2022

By Nicholas Orpin and Alison Coyle

October has been a month of great activity and engagement. Thank you to everyone for volunteering your special talents.

The variety of ways we engaged with people this month strengthens my resolve to create more opportunities for people to come into contact with the right Peer Support volunteer, at the right time and in the right way.

Before we had even reached the month end, we had already helped over 80 people via Helpdesk and LiveChat alone. As always, a wide range of topics are covered, including audiology, technology and communication.

LinkUp news

Eleven people were signed up to attend the latest LinkUp Group – the Charity’s first to be held in Fife.

As well as covering the issues people are currently struggling with, we had specific sessions on hearing aid maintenance and technology as well as a session led by one of the NHS audiologists from Edinburgh. Another great success with feedback from the participants including:-

“The discussions made me think of things from a different perspective”

“It was really good to hear how so many people were going through or have gone through the same or similar situations than myself”

“My hearing partner appreciated hearing stories and learning more about hearing loss”

“The staff and volunteers were absolutely fantastic at making me feel welcome and at ease”

“Absolutely Amazing!”

“I cannot think of any way in improving on the weekend as I thought that the whole weekend was absolutely fantastic”

“I look forward to whatever situations I face in the future”

“I can’t thank you all enough for everything over the weekend”

Huge thanks to volunteers May, Charles, Ann, Margaret and Elaine for being such an important part of the participants’ journey to living with their hearing loss better.

Community outreach

Peer Support Volunteers continued with hearing support sessions in SE London. Thank you again to Alison for this excellent monthly initiative, and also to Ann and Elaine who ran a similar session within Edinburgh’s Audiology department at Lauriston for the first time since spring 2020!

The space is currently open to patients with appointments only, rather than a full drop-in service. Ten patients engaged with the volunteers on their way to their appointments and we’ll be continuing the sessions on a monthly basis. It’s great to be back!

We also held a Community Day in Kent with over 20 people attending. Partnership Instructor Cathryn says: “The day went really well with people asking when the next one is. There were lots of questions on audiology and technology as well as local services. We had Peer Support volunteer Alison with us as well, which was great.”

Building professional connections

Speaking of audiologists, our team of staff and volunteers exhibited at the British Academy of Audiology’s (BAA) national conference in Manchester. It was a great opportunity to highlight Hearing Link Services to professionals from all over the UK. We felt that we were very well-placed to present our services in partnership with clinical care.

Audiologists typically see more patients, with less time available. The emotional impact of changes in hearing for their patients cannot be fully addressed in their appointment and this is where we can come in. If audiologists can encourage patients to self-refer, or they can allow us to have charity Peer Support volunteers run a hearing support session as above, we can contribute to their holistic care.

Take a bow Helen, Christine and hearing dog Jessie, Brenda and hearing dog Lexie and Lesley and hearing dog Abney for making it such a popular and informative stand!

Thanks again to Helen who supported our colleague Michael at the Association of Teachers of Lipreading to Adults (ATLA) stand at their conference in Manchester. Around 40 delegates attended from around the UK, gaining valuable information on how our services can complement the amazing work lipreading teachers do.

ATLA Conference by Alison Coyle
Helen Thom at ATLA Conference

Michael Britland, our Training and Development Manager, recently presented to the ATLA Conference about our range of personalised services, which was very well received. Volunteer Helen Thom, a qualified lipreading tutor who was attending as an ATLA member, stepped up to assist with the Hearing Link Services information table.

Helen and Michael distributed their full supply of leaflets and BT booklets as lipreading tutors were very keen to pass on information about our services to their students. We will keep ATLA members informed of our events.

Another HLS Volunteer John Newton, attended in his capacity as Chairman of the Manchester CI organisation CICADA, providing information on his organisation. I asked John for more information about who he was representing:-

“I was there representing CICADA, of which I am chair. It is the patient support group for the Richard Ramsden Centre for Hearing Implants at Manchester Royal infirmary and its full title is The Manchester CICADA Charity. CICADA is specifically about helping people with implants, cochlear implants and bone anchored devices. It was originally set up by Professor Ramsden himself who was one of the pioneers of the CI procedures in the UK. It is now run as an independent registered charity.

“The conference was very interesting and I enjoyed talking to people about their varied experience and reactions to deafness. Apart from Michael’s engaging presentation, I learned new stuff about tinnitus and about the research going on at Aston University into patients’ experience of audiology services.”

If you volunteer for another organisation within the deaf sector, we would be most interested to find out more from you.

Peer Support Team Roll Out by Nicholas

In October, you shave received a link to a presentation about our new Peer Support Team. This is a chance to learn more about the team, the services and our colleagues in the wider department, and how we provide opportunities for more people to benefit from peer support.

If you haven’t had a chance to view the presentation, here it is again. Please note, that to view this presentation you will require your Microsoft login details. If you don’t have these to hand or need help in accessing your login, please do contact myself.

Below is a list of the main points covered in the presentation by start time (minutes:seconds) if you’d rather find out about them one bite at a time.

03.50 – Intro to the Hearing Loss Services Department

04.40 – The Central Support Team – how we work with advisors to deliver Helpdesk, LinkUps and personalised 1-1 sessions.

10.32 – The Community Support Team – how we work with partnership instructors at Community Days, their 1,100 partnerships and the wider public

19.35 – Engagement materials – How QR coded cards and an online app will help your role and ways for people to access our services.

23.15 – Microsoft Teams – learn more about how the platform is helping us to stay connected now, and its role in the future.

28.45 – Evolved charity branding – how we present our services at community and professional events, building visibility and awareness of all the services. More information about our evolved logo.

31.30 – Pathways – routes into the charity and through our services

34.33 – Self-engagement – why building a long-term relationship really helps

40.10 – Helpful Hours – longer than a conversation on stand but shorter than a LinkUp Group, making specific information available as a discussion, presentation or demonstration in a way and at a time that suits more people.

45.20 – LiveChat – a new online service in development

48.00 – Communications – charity-wide magazines for supporters and beneficiaries.

50.36 – Microvolunteering – Bite-size ways to support the charity, meet new people and engage further.

52.44 – What’s next – the coming months and early 2023.

Coming up in November

• LinkUp Group at The Grange 11-13 November
• Two Community Days in Northern Ireland
• The drop-in hearing support sessions will continue in London and Edinburgh

Please follow @hearinglink on social media and ‘like’ and ‘retweet’ our posts to encourage wider awareness.

Thank you in advance for the volunteers supporting these events!